Mashed Potato Casserole and Other Ramblings

May 15th, 2015

Mashed Potato Casserole 1

Allow me to ramble a bit.  This will be a rather disjointed post.  It seems I have been snapping pictures willy nilly with no particular theme in mind.  We did have this mashed potato casserole last week.  David was grilling ribs and I knew that the timing for dinner would remain up in the air.  There are many steps involved in his rib recipe.  So, as not to worry about the mashed potatoes, I turned them into a casserole that could be kept warm in the oven.  The topping of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter was delicious.

Porch Tulips 1

Yesterday we had an old friend from our college days over for lunch.  She has moved close to our area and we had the best time catching up with each other.  I set the table on the porch, and although it was cool, we enjoyed being outside.

Porch Couscous

Our lunch included Ina Garen’s Couscous and Tuna Salad.  You can find the recipe here.

Porch Salad

I made a simple tossed salad with Spring greens, mandarin oranges, raspberries and almonds and these focaccia breadsticks with an oil and balsamic vinegar dipping sauce.

Porch Sign

David took me out to lunch for Mother’s Day at a small town near us.  After lunch we browsed in several antique shops.  I found this “Antiques” sign.  It is obviously not old, but it looks great hanging on my porch.

Lake Lure House Spring 1

I also found this colorful hanging basket to hang at the entrance to the cottage.

Potato Casserole 2v


6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 cup half and half or cream
A large handful of chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
1/3 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon melted butter

Place potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Add a generous teaspoon of salt.  Bring to bowl and cook until tender.  Drain potatoes.  Add butter and enough half and half to mash into a creamy consistency.  Add chives and mix in.

Grease a casserole dish.  Add potato mixture.

Mix together the topping ingredients.  Spread over potatoes.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Can be held in a warm oven until needed.

Printable Recipe


Ground Beef Stroganoff

April 16th, 2015

Ground Beef Stroganoff 1

Cooking has been a challenge for the past week.  We visited the kids in Cary over the weekend.  Upon arrival at their new house our dog Daisy got away from us.  In an effort to help recapture her and wearing my pretty new impractical flip flops, I fell on a pine needle covered incline.  I wrenched my right leg badly and probably have a sprained ankle.  My week has been one of pain pills and limping.  I am starting to feel better but complicated meals are not something I want to tackle.

Ground Beef Stroganoff 2V

That’s one of the reasons that I loved this Ground Beef Stroganoff recipe.  It is cooked in one pot from start to finish.  Not to mention the fact that it is very tasty.

Ground Beef Stroganoff 3

I am trying to stay off of my feet.  Thankfully we just got Netflix streaming and I have started watching Bloodline.  I am also reading the best novel about food and cooking.  My next post will have a recipe from this delicious book.  In the meantime, if you are out of sorts, just tired, or looking for something quick to make other than Hamburger Helper, you need to try this recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium beef broth or stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces dried egg noodles
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring rarely, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper, and break the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s just cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and paprika, stir to coat the meat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the raw flavor has cooked off the flour, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pot, until almost evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, measured salt, and measured pepper and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the noodles and reserved mushrooms along with their accumulated juices and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Printable Recipe



Sweet Potato Colcannon with Bacon

March 21st, 2015

Sweet Potato Colcannon 4 Better

This casserole would have been the perfect side dish for St. Patrick’s Day.  Colcannon is an Irish dish which usually contains potatoes and cabbage or kale.  Making it with sweet potatoes and adding a kick of cayenne pepper and bacon elevates it from drab to very interesting indeed.  The original recipe called for pancetta, but I think the bacon does just as well. We had already had our corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes and carrots when I found this recipe on the FOOD52 website.  Since corned beef was still on sale, I bought another one and made it along side this and a scrumptious sauerkraut salad.  It was a new take on the St. Paddy’s Day menu.

Sweet Potato Colcannon with Bacon 2V

I am loving my new Staub cookware that I won from FOOD52.  The quality and sturdiness are unsurpassed.  But then I am also sold on the less expensive Lodge cast iron cookware.  My Le Creuset enameled cookware is also put to good use in my kitchen, but the enamel does stain after time no matter how well I clean it.  I would be interested in your thoughts on this matter.  What about copper?

Sweet Potato Colcannon with Bacon 3

I hate it when I get in the picture.  I loved this shot of my sweet potatoes until I saw my orange glad self in the reflection in the spoon.  Oh well.  The potatoes are still very photogenic and I highly recommend this dish.  Next time I will add even more cayenne pepper.  More bacon too.  Hope you like it as much as I did.  We are packing.  One more week until we return to North Carolina.


  • 1/3pound kale, rinsed well and stripped of coarse stems
  • 1 1/2pounds sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 slices of bacon, diced and fried until crisp
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/8teaspoon cayenne powder, plus more as desired
  • 1/2cup half-and-half
  1. Place kale in salted boiling water for 8 minutes, until tender and bright green. Reserving the boiling water, remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and squeeze out excess water, then chop fine.
  2. Boil the sweet potato in the water used for the kale for 15 minutes, covered, or until tender. Drain and pass through a potato ricer or food mill, into a large, heat-proof pot. (Note: If you have neither a ricer nor mill, push potato through a sieve or otherwise be sure to mash thoroughly until smooth.)
  3. Add the chopped kale to the sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the inclusion of cayenne and bacon later in the recipe will boost the levels of both salt and spice; be judicious.
  4. In a medium skillet over moderate heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
  5. In the same pan you used to cook the bacon, melt the butter. Add onion and cayenne and sauté over medium heat, until onion is translucent and has lost its crunch. Set aside.
  6. In a small saucepan, heat half-and-half, then beat it into the sweet potato-kale mixture (I just used a fork, which worked best). Add the bacon. Add the onion and the fat from the pan. Combine all ingredients well, and serve warm.
  7. This dish may be prepared in advance. In fact, it tastes even better the next day. Also, try pressing the colcannon into a pie plate and chilling overnight: The next day, cut into wedges and fry up in additional butter or oil to accompany a breakfast of scrambled eggs.

Printable Recipe

Medoc Stuffed Cabbage

November 14th, 2014

Chou Farci 1

In the Medoc region of France stuffed cabbage is called Chou Farci.  But stuffed cabbage is called many names by numerous cultures.  The Polish name for stuffed cabbage is Golabki or Galumpkis.  The Czech name is Holubky.  The Serb and Croatian name is Sarma.  How then did my Mother come up with the name Habacha?  I have no idea where that originated.  But I do remember how wonderful her cabbage rolls tasted.

Chou Farci 2V

So naturally when I received Mimi Thorrison’s new cookbook,  A Kitchen in FranceI was excited to try her version of stuffed cabbage.  Instead of individual cabbage rolls, she makes one large stuffed cabbage with layers of meat and cabbage leaves.  She uses the ruffled Savoy cabbage which, when fresh, has a bright green color.  I had a hard time finding a bright green savoy cabbage, but did finally find one at my local supermarket.  Use the prettiest bright green leaf for the bottom layer as this is what will be seen when it is inverted.

Chou Farci 3Once the cabbage leaves totally enclose the filling, it is ready to go into the oven.  “It’s all wrapped together in a pretty parcel” in Mimi’s words.  I have to say that this pretty parcel was a lot easier than wrapping individual cabbage leaves.

Chou Farci 4Once cooked it is ready to be inverted onto a serving plate.  You can see now why you should use a pretty cabbage leaf for your base.  I also reinforced that leaf with two others underneath it to keep the filling intact.

Chou Farci 5The meat and sausage filling studded with vegetables was delicious and the cabbage leaves held up well.   This was another successful recipe from my new favorite cookbook.


1 head Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3 pound ground beef
2/3 pound good quality bulk pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Rabelais spice (see Note) or ground allspice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
1 large egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, core the cabbage leaves and separate them, discarding any coarse outer ones.  Cook the leaves in the boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch souffle dish or charlotte mold with butter.  Put a large pretty cabbage leaf, domed side down, in the dish.  Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves until the entire base and sides are covered.  You won’t use all of the leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 to 5 layers).

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion and carrots until softened, 4 minutes.  Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is browned.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes, with their juices, and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the meat mixture has cooled, discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add the egg and mix well.

Put a layer about 1/2 inch thick of the meat in the cabbage-lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf.  Repeat until you’ve used all of the meat and filled the dish, about 4 layers.  Finish with a final layer of cabbage, making sure to tuck in the leaves on all sides.

Bake for 40 minutes.  To unmold, invert a plate over the souffle dish, flip the plate and dish, and remove the mold.  Serve immediately, cut into slices.

Note:  Rabelais spice is a mix of allspice, nutmeg, and curry – a traditional spice in France since 1820.

Printable Recipe

Katie’s Shepherd’s Pie

May 19th, 2014

Katie's Shephards Pie 1

Our weather went from 90 degrees to a cool 50 degrees this week.  We lit a fire in the fireplace early one morning.  The cool weather made me hungry for comfort food again.  I have made several versions of shepherd’s pie or in this case, cottage pie since it uses ground beef instead of ground lamb.  But Katie from the What Katie Ate blog calls this recipe shepherd’s pie anyway.  I have to say it is the best version I have ever tried.  Why,… you may ask?

Katie's Shephards Pie 2V

It starts with roasting garlic cloves in the oven to be incorporated into the mashed potato topping.  The aroma begins the anticipation of the meal to come.  It continues with the extra flavor that is added to the ground beef mixture.  Tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, barbecue sauce and freshly grated nutmeg all conspire to give the beef richness as well as a deep red color.  The topping is liberally sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese.  It came out of the oven bubbly and golden brown.  We loved it.

Katie's shephards pie 4 good

You will too.  Even if you have to wait for the next cold snap, it is worth adding to your favorites file.

Cottage Fireplace

We won’t be seeing this again for a while.


1 Tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 onion finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/4 lbs. lean ground free-range beef
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons steak sauce
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked, plus extra sprigs to garnish
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roasted Garlic and Cheesy Mash Topping:
3 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
Sea salt and ground white pepper
5 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling

To make the topping, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the three whole garlic cloves on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until soft.  Remove and allow to cool, then squeeze out the soft flesh and discard the papery skin.

While the garlic is roasting, half-fill a large saucepan with cold water, season with a good pinch of salt, then add the potatoes.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-high and cook at a rolling simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and soft in the middle when pierced with a knife.  This is important if you want a really creamy mash – if they are even slightly firm in the middle you’ll never get smooth mash, as there will be tiny lumps dotted throughout.

Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan and break up with a potato masher.  Pass the potato through a potato ricer until completely smooth.  Add the milk, yogurt, parmesan and cooled roasted garlic and mix together well.  Season generously with salt and pepper, then set aside (or, if you’d like a decorative topping, transfer to a large icing bag fitted with a 1/2 inch star-shaped nozzle and set aside until required).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a further 5-7 minutes.  Add the ground beef and stir well, breaking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon.  Cook until the beef is nicely browned, (drain off fat if any accumulates) then add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, barbecue sauce, nutmeg and thyme leaves and stir everything together.  Season with salt and pepper and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.  Spoon the mixture into a 6 cup capacity baking dish.

Pipe or spoon the mashed potato over the filling and sprinkle with extra parmesan and pepper.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the potato is golden brown.  Sprinkle over a little more parmesan, if liked, scatter over extra thyme sprigs and serve hot.

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.